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Solving the World’s Challenges…with a Lot of C’s

by on October 27, 2020 4:45 AM

“Early morning hike up Mt. Nittany. Beautiful views! Off to coffee club to solve the world’s challenges!”

I put that post out on my Facebook page joking around about how my friends and I at our Saturday morning coffee club meet at Café Lemont to “solve the world’s challenges.“  A number of my Facebook friends immediately commented, “Please let us know the solutions to the challenges!” and “Please, please solve them!” and “Please, please do whatever you can to fix the world's challenges!”  Obviously, I had struck a nerve.

So, I quickly responded: “It takes common sense, civility, caring, collaboration, courage, compassion and compromise. All of which, sadly, are in short supply!”

Oh, and don’t forget the coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. Hmmm. Seems that the key to solving the world’s challenges involves a lot of C’s.

We are a week away from the most anticipated event in a long time, especially since COVID-19 invaded our world. No, I don’t mean the Penn State-Ohio State football game. I am talking about what both political parties are billing as the election that will determine the very soul of our nation for decades to come.

As if we weren’t already deluged with news and advertisements full of half-truths and innuendo from both sides of our beloved two-party system, this week has been revved up to warp speed. Then add a huge dose of the “If it doesn’t bleed, it doesn’t lead” media, and I am not sure how much more we can be expected to take. It might have been coincidence that as I turned my SiriusXM radio dial off the news channels and to the ‘80s music channel, former Eagles singer Don Henley’s solo hit “Dirty Laundry” came on:  

I make my living off the evening news, just give me something-something I can use. People love it when you lose. They love dirty laundry. Dirty little secrets, dirty little lies. We got our dirty little fingers in everybody's pie. We love to cut you down to size; we love dirty laundry."

Aren’t you tired of the sensationalism and catastrophizing, the anger and angst, and not knowing who or what to believe?

Personally, I would gladly vote for whatever candidate brought the right mix of being presidential and diplomatic, posseses a can-do inspirational message (based in reality), is a great problem-solver with a win-win attitude for the greater good, and speaks the truth more than their political rhetoric and character assassination of their opponent.  But thanks to our current two-party system, we once again seem to have little choice but to pick between the lesser of two evils.  We are all pegged as one party or the other.  You’re either one of them or, heaven forbid, one of them.

Well what are those of us who are socially conscious and fiscally reasonable supposed to do?  You know, that huge group of us who are somewhere “in the middle” who want realistic, pragmatic, rational people running our country? Rational? Did you say rational? Don’t you know the old saying that, “It’s the rational person who appears irrational to the irrational person?” 

Alright, let’s get back to solving the world’s challenges with all those C’s.

Let’s start with, of course, a cup of coffee.

We need the cup to be made of commonsense. You know, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. I’m tired of the unrealistic promises made that neither candidate nor their party is really capable of keeping.  Will someone actually commit to being transparent and lead by making informed choices?

We need to pour in a strong batch of civility. Regardless of the outcome of the election we have to act like adults, and we must treat each other with common courtesy and mutual respect. 

We need to add the right dose of caring. Our leaders should be held to a higher standard of doing what’s right for the people, all people, of this great nation. Put the right thing to do before party at those moments of truth.

We need to stir our mixture with a steady spoon of collaboration. Our Congress is supposed to work for the greater good. You do that by getting the right people around the right table at the right time with the right information working to develop the best options to make informed choices.

We need to have the courage to take a healthy drink of our coffee. We all have to have more courage to do the right thing at those “moments of truth” when we’re in hot water.

We can top it off with some sweet whipped compassion to set the right tone. If you diss someone in a meeting, everyone else points their elbow at you and shames you back to a place of respect. Or we can all just act like adults and be empathetic and respectful from the start.

Finally, we need to have additional flavors and strength of compromise available. If one side doesn’t care for the original batch, then give a little more of this or take away some of that.  You know, negotiate a fair resolution. This “I must win at all cost, so you lose” attitude is costing our nation, everyone, in the long haul.

It takes a win-win attitude for everyone to enjoy that cup of coffee together. 

Of the commonsense principles, the one we need to focus on the most right now is civility. The only way civility will return is with respect, grace and dignity.

When I was growing up and playing competitive sports, we were always taught to win with grace and lose with dignity. There are people on both sides (or our enemies from abroad stirring the pot) out there on social media threatening violence if “their” candidate doesn’t win. Stop it! Nobody wins if there is violence. Nobody.

Stop your irrational arguing on social media and don’t get baited into a peeing contest with a skunk. I heard some great advice from a World Business and Executive Coach webinar for all of the know-it-alls out there hiding behind their digital devices. Don’t be an ultracrepidarian.  A what? It’s a person who criticizes, judges or gives advice outside their area of expertise. Remember, “It is the rational person who appears irrational to the irrational person.”

It’s a shame we have gotten to the point where we are not supposed to talk politics.  Hmm, doesn’t seem to pass the commonsense test. How do we learn if we don’t talk to each other in a civil and respectful way?

How about if we make this election all about being passionately respectful. I can dream, can’t I?  In the end someone will win the election. You can’t have the spoiled child’s attitude of “If I don’t get my way, I’m taking my ball and going home.” 

It’s too late for a new third-party alternative. But if I could wave my magic wand, I would create the Commonsense Party. It would be the party of the socially conscious and fiscally responsible  who live with common courtesy and mutual respect. I have the platform all laid out below, with great respect to author Robert Fulghum.

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten: 

“ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:  Share everything. Play fair. Don't hit people.  Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don't take things that aren't yours.  Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.  Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.”

I am asking all Americans to keep this simple lesson in mind and to use these ingredients to help solve our differences and challenges:  common sense, civility, caring, collaboration, courage, compassion, and compromise.  Now go vote, in peace.


Joe Battista has been an integral part of the Penn State and State College communities since 1978. He is best known for his effort to bring varsity ice hockey to Happy Valley and in the building of Pegula Ice Arena. “JoeBa” is the owner of PRAGMATIC Passion, LLC consulting, a professional speaker, success coach, and the vice president of the National Athletic and Professional Success Academy (NAPSA). He is the author of a new book, “The Power of Pragmatic Passion.” Joe lives in State College with his wife Heidi (PSU ’81 & ’83), daughter Brianna (PSU ’15), and son’s Jon (PSU ’16), and Ryan (State High Class of 2019).
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